Tuesday, May 31, 2011


At tonight's HCSD Board of Education meeting --the one at which, after considering first the broad strokes and then the nitty-gritty of possible reductions, the BOE was supposed to make some decisions about cutting the budget--the BOE voted AGAIN 4 to 3 to adopt the same budget the voters rejected 3 to 1 on May 17.  The BOE members voting to adopt the budget were the usual suspects--Emil Meister, Jeff Otty, and Mary Daly--and the newest board member, Jeri Chapman. Voting against it were Peter Merante, Elizabeth Fout, and Peter Meyer.  

A New Candidate for the First Ward

An article in today's Register-Star confirms what many already knew: "Rodgers bows out of race for alderman." Rodgers earned incumbent First Ward Alderman Geeta Cheddie's righteous indignation first when he was endorsed by the Hudson City Democratic Committee (an endorsement Cheddie sought but did not receive) even though he did not actually live in Hudson or the First Ward and later when he applied to become a commissioner of deeds using the address of a building where he expected to rent an apartment but never actually entered into a lease agreement, but he claims that he is not withdrawing because of Cheddie's harassment but because a stronger candidate has emerged. 

The candidate replacing Rodgers in the Democrats' lineup is David Marston, a First Ward resident and homeowner and an active voice in community issues. Marston has advocated for the preservation of Bliss Towers, is part of the ad hoc committee working to save 900 Columbia Street, and wrote a reasoned and articulate My View recently about the designation of Robinson Street as a historic district.

Monday, May 30, 2011

A Hundred Years Ago in Hudson

In 1911, fifty years after the beginning of the Civil War and forty-three years after the first observation of Memorial Day, the parade in Hudson was a bigger affair than it is today. The following, including the artwork, is from the Evening Register for May 29, 1911--back in the day when Memorial Day was celebrated on May 30, no matter what day that fell on, instead of on the last Monday in May, as it is now.  


The Program of the Services at the Cemetery.


Firemen and Fraternal Order Will
be in Line in Addition to
Usual Participants.

To-morrow, the Memorial Day parade, which will take place in the afternoon, will be composed of two divisions, to consist of Company F, the veterans of R. D. Lathrop Post, the Hudson fire department, Knights of Pythias, the Modern Woodmen, the Knights of the Maccabees, the Boy Scouts. The order of the marching column, with the Hudson band leading the first division and the Co. F Drum Corps the second division will be as follows:

The Order and Formation of Parade on Memorial Day.
Assembly at the armory 1 o'clock p.m., sharp.
Carriages report to Eugene C. Secor at the armory 12:45 sharp.
Company F, Tenth Regiment, will form on North Fifth street, right resting on State.
R. D. Lathrop Post No. 138, G. A. R., Hudson Camp No. 71, S. A. W., Veterans and Sons of Veterans, will form in the armory.
Hudson First Department, Chief William H. Weaver, will form on North Fifth street, right resting on State.
Henry Hudson Co. No. 4, U. R., Knights of Pythias, will form on North Fifth street, right resting on State, left extending to Warren.
Hudson Camp No. 8771, Modern Woodmen of America, will form on North Fifth street in read of U. R. Knights of Pythias.
Hendrick Hudson Tent No. 577, K. O. T. M., will form on North Fifth street in rear of Woodmen.
The Boy Scouts of America will form on North Fifth street in rear of the K. O. T. M.
Carriage will form on arrival on State street, right resting on North Fifth street, left extending to Sixth.

Order of Marching Column.
Marshal and Aides.
First Division.
Sergeant John Cruise and Police Platoon.
Hudson City Band.
Company F, Tenth Regiment, Capt. A. G. Harvey, Commanding.
R. D. Lathrop Post No. 138, G. A. R., Eugene Secor, Commander.
Hudson Camp No. 71, S. A. War Veterans, Chas. W. Clapper, Commander.
Sons of Veterans,
Robert Hotaling, Commanding.
Hudson Fire Department,
Wm. H. Weaver, Chief, and Assistants.
Edmonds Hose Co. No. 1
H. W. Rogers Hose Co. No. 2
Washington Hose Co. No. 3
Phoenix Hose Co. No. 5
J. W. Hoysradt Hose and Chemical Co. No. 8

Second Division
William W. Chace, Chief of Division.
Co. F, Tenth Regiment Drum Corps.
Henry Hudson Co. No. 4, U. R., K. of P.
Edgar H. Davis. Commanding.
Hudson Camp No. 8771, M. W. A., Milton Van Hoesen, Commanding.
Hendrick Hudson Tent No. 577, K. O. T. M., J. Gamwell Aldcroftt, Commanding.
The Boy Scouts of America, Physical Director Wheldon, Commanding.
City Officials in Carriages.
Clergy in Carriages.

Line of March
Down State to Fourth, over Fourth to Warren street, up Warren to Park Place, over Park Place to Columbia street, up Columbia street to Cedar Park Cemetery.

On the return from the cemetery the line of march will be down Prospect avenue to Warren street, down Warren to Fifth street, over Fifth to the armory, where the column will be dismissed.


Services at Cemetery
The following is the order of exercises at the cemetery:
Bugle Call, Assembly.
Prayer by the Rev. Geo. MacDonald, pastor of the First M. E. church.
Reading  Original Order No. 11, by General Logan, instituting the observance of Memorial Day, by Frank S. Clapper, of Spanish War Veterans.
"Hail Columbia," by band.
Reading President Lincoln's address at Gettysburg, by James W. Moon, Past Commander, G. A. R.
Reading General Orders C. S., Dept. of N. Y., G. A. R., by Eugene C. Secor, Commander G. A. R.
"Star Spangled Banner," by band.
Oration, by Elmer S. Luckenbach, Esq.
"America," by band.
Benediction by Rev. Paul W. Kohler, Pastor of St. John's Lutheran church.
Bugle Call, Taps (lights out.)

Sunday, May 29, 2011

December-December Dog Date at LICK

William invited his friend Lucy for Betsy's Bow Wow ice cream at LICK this afternoon. It wasn't exactly a two-straw milkshake moment, but standing side by side, focused more on the ice cream than each other, William and Lucy sure had a good time.  

Thanks to Lucy's human for two of these pictures. 

"Into the Silent Land"

Here is the end of the sad story of Mr. Townsend, pastor of the Congregational Church, from the original Gossips of Rivertown.

Before the close of that short week, a sad and silent crowd gathered in the house so lately the abode of quiet domestic happiness.

One by one they passed into the darkened room, and stood beside the coffin of her who had been an angel of consolation to them all. A smile of peace dwelt on the still features; the long lashes, never again to be upraised, rested upon the cheek henceforth to know not the moisture of bitter tears. So holy, so calm was that perfect repose, that those who were weeping involuntarily checked the expression of their grief. Why weep for her? At rest from all pain, lying there so peacefully, with her babe clasped to her heart—the babe that had but glanced at the light of earth, and then closed its soft blue eyes willingly, to be borne in the arms of a dying mother "into the silent land."

When the simple rite was nearly ended, and they were preparing to close the coffin for the last time, one bent over it that refused to be comforted. The last three days had stamped the mark of years upon their pastor's haggard face. There was a wildness in the glance he sent among his people, that made every one shudder with the fear that the fate he dreaded was come upon him; but this changed to an indescribable expression of yearning agony, when he lifted his wondering children for the last look upon their mother's face. Then came a still and gentle woman, far older, but much like the mother of these little ones, and a stern man, whose face softened for an instant as he gazed into the coffin, but instantly settled again to a harsh and resolute rigidity.

Those who pitied all the stricken group, and would willingly have borne a part of their suffering for them, did not know that the father of the dead cursed in his heart the man who had won his daughter from her early home, even while he looked upon her holy face, nor that his harsh threat of forcing her to return thither, conveyed in the letter she had so fondly welcomed, was the immediate cause of all this desolation.

How the slanders, to which he gave full credence, had reached Mr. Warner, was never known, but they had caused his hasty resolve to withdraw her from a protection he had never fully assented to, and the cruel letter had proved the death-blow to her already overburdened heart.

Mr. Townsend did not go mad; though, with a knowledge of his history, many feared that he would become a maniac. His sorrow seemed after a time a thing apart from actual life, and he entered as earnestly as ever upon the duties of his calling. A chastened expression of sadness became habitual to his face; the smile so many loved became more rare than ever. He could not stay where every thing excited some agonizing recollection of the past, but in a new sphere, and surrounded by those who appreciated his singularly elevated character, he fulfilled a round of unostentatious and benevolent labour. His people saw him always calm and rarely outwardly depressed, but they did not know of the hours in which he "wrestled with hidden pain." The solace of his children's society was rarely accorded to him. They are growing up in the house in which their mother's childhood had been passed, and will inherit the wealth which was her rightful portion.

The first cause of this strange and fearful sundering of a happy family, was altered little by the consequences of his malicious slander. True, he was degraded from his office of deacon, and for an interval shut out from the communion of the church, but he only vouchsafed the remark "that he didn't mean to make no mischief, and it all came of Deacon Whiting's taking it up so seriously."

Deacon Whiting at length ceased trying to account for the mysterious Providence that had sent so severe a trial upon an innocent and truly excellent man.

"God knows best though," he would say to his wife, "and I suppose it's all right. I've often thought our minister's wife was getting too good for this world, but unless it was what made us all really charitable towards each other, and careful in particular as to what we say about our neighbours' failings, I don't see why she might not have been taken to Heaven without suffering all she did. However, we haven't changed our minister since, and before that no one ever stayed with us over two years."

It would be hard, indeed, were we to attempt to explain why the innocent are so often the greatest sufferers in this weary world; and many a heart would utterly fail, were it not for a firm trust that all these things shall be known and approved hereafter.

Our sketch has more than its foundation in reality.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

What's Next for 400 State Street?

Since the current library board made its intentions known to move the library out of its historic building, the question on the minds of people who care about 400 State Street has been, "What will happen to it now?" Gossips has reported the fact that HCDPA will take possession of the building when the libary leaves and the rumor that Eric Galloway is negotiating to buy it.

Last night, David Voorhees shared on Facebook a much more desirable idea for the future of Hudson and its oldest surviving institutional building:
Although at the epicenter of America's first truly original art movement in the 19th century, the City of Hudson shockingly still does not have an art museum. The contemplated sale of the architecturally important Hudson Area Library Building suggests immediate actions be taken to create an organization to preserve the structure and create a board for its use as a museum. Is anyone interested?
Anyone interested in pursuing this idea should contact David or Gossips.

More About Bricks and General Worth's Birthplace

John Mason has a story in today's Register-Star that gives some insight into what's going on behind the plastic shroud at 211 Union Street: "Interns getting hands-on brickwork." The article reports that Philmont stone mason Tim Smith has interns from Hudson High School working at the General Worth site.

Speaking of his apprenticeship program for local high school students, Smith is quoted as saying, “We’re putting them on real job sites, with real controversy. The kids are getting valuable experience doing history. . . . A real job site is a great place to put your life together; they don’t grade you A, B, C. Historic restoration is wonderful work experience for kids. Four interns have gone through this site."

Smith goes on to say, "One or two of my guys are going down to the National Park Service Restoration School. The Park Service is going to train interns in-house. I’m really excited: These sites are wonderful training for kids.”

Friday, May 27, 2011


It's here! Betsy's Bow Wow ice cream has come to LICK! William tried it tonight and LOVED it. (Its presence in the dipping cabinet took us by surprise, so I didn't have a camera to capture the moment.) Take your dog to LICK this weekend for ice cream created just for dogs! 

What's in a Brick?

The Register-Star reports today that the Old Brick Taven at the intersection of Routes 9H and 66 is being demolished. Every part of it is being salvaged, including the bricks, a truckload of which "has already been spoken for by the General Worth house in Hudson."

On May 9, Gossips reported that Eric Galloway, who owns General Worth's birthplace, was dissatisfied with the front wall after it had been rebuilt, as a single-course "veneer" wall, with the original brick--as the Historic Preservation Commission had been assured it would be--and ordered it rebuilt with different bricks. Now, it seems, we know where those different bricks are coming from.

On a related topic, rumor has it that Galloway is negotiating to buy another precious Hudson landmark: 400 State Street.


The Talk Continues

Last night's HCSD budget workshop started out with a four-page agenda containing 119 ideas for cutting the school budget--apparently every suggestion that has been made to members of the BOE in the past several days. After the meeting had gone on for an hour and 45 minutes, only 20 of the items had been discussed. The meeting reportedly continued for another hour. 

Register-Star reporter Audra Jornov seems to have stayed to the bitter end, and her account provides a sense of what being there was like: "Budget ideas swirl at HCSD meeting." To fill in a couple missing details, the "eager audience member" mentioned in the third paragraph is HCSD budget watchdog Vince Wallace, and the "obesity specialist" mentioned in the thirty-fifth paragraph is Kari Rieser, program coordinator for Kids in Motion Childhood Obesity Prevention at the Columbia Health Care Consortium.           

Thursday, May 26, 2011

HCSD Budget

There's another budget workshop tonight at 7 p.m. In the meantime, a list of short-term and long-term options for reducing the budget, the product of last night's workshop, is on the HCSD website.

One of the items on the list of short-term options is eliminating busing within the city limits of Hudson. Because of HCSD's status as an "enlarged small city school district," state education law permits the BOE to do this without a public referendum. A move to eliminate busing for all students in the district living within a radius of 1.5 miles of the school would require a referendum.

For anyone who has witnessed the convoy of buses pulling out of the driveway at JLE, many with only a couple kids aboard, or wondered why those buses can't turn off their engines while waiting for school to be dismissed or marveled at the HCSD policy of busing every student in the district, even those who live only a couple blocks from school, or watched parents standing in the cold with their children waiting for the bus when a brisk walk to school would have gotten them there safely in less time, the $2.2 million transportation budget seems the ideal place to make cuts. Unfortunately, the first step toward whittling down the transportation budget--the only one the BOE can make in the short term--is likely to bring protests of inequity similar to those heard a few years ago when HCSD introduced bus passes and required only students living in Hudson to have them.

If the BOE decides to eliminate busing in Hudson, many Hudson students will end up having to walk more than a mile and a half to school, while students in Greenport living closer to the school will still be bused. The driving distance between the high school and the southern border of Hudson on Worth Avenue is 2 miles. The driving distance between the high school and Bliss Towers is exactly 1.5 miles. Still, reducing busing is an important move toward sustainability on many levels, and the community of Hudson could set an example by providing safe routes for kids to walk and bike to school.

One of the long-term options on the list is "Looking into recycling, solar and wind energy." The 2011-2012 HCSD budget includes $600,000 for electricity--an increase of $200,000 over 2010-2011. When the increased allocation for electricity was mentioned at a meeting on April 4, Daniel Barrett, HCSD business manager, explained that the increase was necessary to cover the electricity demands of the new junior high school building, now less than a year old. You have to wonder why--since it was predictable that, with all the computers, smart boards, and other technology, the new building was going to increase the district's electricity usage--it never occurred to anyone to explore, when the building was being designed, putting solar panels on the roof or using geothermal energy to heat and cool it.

One thing that was revealed during last night's meeting is that salary increases for the teaching staff have been written into the budget, although Superintendent Jack Howe refused to disclose the exact amount since the district is in contract negotiations with the Hudson Teacher's Association. Although many members of the community are calling for teachers to "share the pain" and many individual teachers are reportedly willing to accept a salary freeze, the teachers' union has so far steadfastly refused any concessions to ease the burden for district taxpayers or to save the jobs of their colleagues. 

The minutes of last night's meeting are available here.

Of Interest

There's lots to read in today's Register-Star.

The Mayor Speaks Topping the list is a My View by Richard Scalera, Hudson mayor, about the LWRP: "Public had ample chance to comment." In the opening paragraph, Scalera states: "I would venture to say that Hudson’s LWRP has gone through more public comment than any other LWRP in the history of New York state’s coastal program. Even before the first draft of the LWRP was released in 2007, the city held six public workshops and nearly 50 meetings with interested stakeholders." It's interesting to note that all of those six public workshops took place from 2006 to 2007, during a period when Scalera was briefly out of office. Since 2008, when Scalera returned to office, the opportunities for the public and even for the Common Council to see the document have been few and far between. In fact, it took more than a year--from January 2010 to May 2011--for the Common Council to get the chance to see how city attorney Cheryl Roberts and Frank Fish of BFJ had categorized the last round of public comments and proposed to respond to them on the Council's behalf. One wonders too about the "nearly 50 meetings with interested stakeholders." How many of them were with Holicm and O&G?

What the mayor fails to grasp is that it doesn't matter how many opportunities for public comment there are if those comments are never adequately addressed. 

The Vet Speaks Gary M. Cane, the vet who treated Romy (whose full name we now know is Romeo) at the Animal Clinic of Hillsdale after the chocolate Lab and his littermate were sucked through the culvert in South Bay, talks about the incident: "Vet: Address culvert danger."  Cane offers his help in creating and installing signs to warn people about the culvert that has already claimed at least four dogs' lives and is quoted in the article as saying, “I guarantee that just because of the "p" word [private property], if you are harboring a dangerous situation you should make it known that it is a dangerous situation.” 

The article ends, not surprisingly, with these two statements: "O&G and Holcim could not be reached for comment. The city and county expressed that they do not have any power in the matter of resolving the issue."

The picture above shows Romeo (center) with his littermate, Tillie, who drowned in the culvert.

The BOE Begins There's also a rather sketchy report by Audra Jornov about last night's budget workshop: "HCSD begins tackling budget." The article contains what we believe is a misquote from BOE vice president Jeff Otty. Jornov reports: “'I will not go back to the budget,' Otty said of the recently proposed budget. He feels that it would be a waste of BOE time and the voters’ time." What Gossips heard him say, talking about making a decision to schedule a revote on the budget, was: "I will not go through this process if we are not going to have a revote."

Gossips' report on last night's meeting will follow shortly. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Anybody Hungry?

After positing that cosmopolitanism, exemplified by a variety of good, cheap ethnic/regional food, is one of the best indicators of a city's vitality, Scott Baldinger reviews on his blog the growing number of vendors and venues in Hudson offering good food for not much money.    

South Bay Ecology

Two species of aquatic fauna have recently been found in South Bay: the American Eel (Anguilla rostrata) and the Blueback Herring (Alosa aestivalis). The discovery of these two previously undocumented species was reported by Timothy O'Connor, on behalf of the South Bay Task Force, to the NYS Department of State Division of Coastal Resources and to the Common Council in a letter dated May 17. The discovery points up the need for a fish survey of South Bay, which was recommended in the 2008 study done by Hudsonia Ltd. but never undertaken.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Happy Ending

Angel, the young German shepherd lost at the Greenport Conservation Area, has been found. She was turned in to the Columbia-Greene Humane Society, and her humans are on their way there to claim her and take her home.

Dog News

Home Again  Romy, the chocolate Lab who survived the harrowing journey through the South Bay culvert that took his littermate's life, returned home last Thursday. He's on antibiotics and pain medication for a bruised back, and his human says, "You can see the trauma in his eyes," but he's home and recuperating, and that's cause for celebration. 

Dog Lost  A young German shepherd named Angel got away from her humans at the Greenport Conservation Area yesterday. She was with her humans on the Yellow Trail that heads south when she ran away. Anyone who has any information about Angel should contact Gossips, and we'll get the word to her humans. 

Meeting Reminder  Both these stories about the bad things that can happen to dogs off leash underline the need for a dog park where dogs can run free safely. First Ward Alderman Sarah Sterling is holding a meeting next week Tuesday, May 31, at 7 p.m., at City Hall to talk about creating a dog park in Hudson. 

Not to Be Missed

Amid all the talk about a school budget that places an intolerable burden on taxpayers, Lynn Sloneker reveals on her blog Unmuffled that 25 percent of the teachers in the Hudson City School District were paid more than $80,000 last year. Looking at the list of salaries paid to administrators and to 53 of the 200 teachers in the district, it's easy to understand why the HCSD budget is so enormous. What's not easy to understand is why student academic performance is so abyssmal.

The People Prevail . . . Again

Last night, the Hudson City School District Board of Education voted 4 to 2 to rescind their May 17 vote, which imposed the $41 million budget even though the voters had soundly rejected it. Jeff Otty, the vice president of the board, who minimized the significance of the popular vote last week by pointing out that only 18 percent of the voters had shown up, chaired last night's meeting, in the absence of BOE President Emil Meister, who was ill. Needless to say, with a standing room only crowd in the high school cafeteria and a police officer present to ensure order, some drama preceded this outcome, and Gossips will endeavor to bring you the highlights.

The first thing the BOE did was to agree to change the order of the agenda and move the public forum to the opening slot. That being done, the first to speak was steadfast HCSD watchdog and critic Vince Wallace, who spoke with some nostalgia about 2005, when the voters rejected the proposed budget not once but twice, and the BOE was forced to adopt a contingency budget that eliminated sports, as well as art and music. As Wallace remembered it, "there was never a closer relationship between the community and the schools." Some will remember that 2005 was also the year that the City of Hudson gave the school district $100,000 out of its fund balance. Rick Scalera, mayor then as now, justified the gift by pointing out that the voters of Hudson had supported the budget. That's not the case this time. The budget was rejected in Hudson 351 to 124.

The next speaker was 84-year-old Claverack resident John Keeler, who described himself as "an oldtimer who's been here a long time." After protesting the way the BOE had "swiftly ignored the community" in its May 17 vote, he declared that it is "way overdue for the board to reform itself" and "deliver quality education at a reasonable price."

Carmine Pierro, Mayor Scalera's aide, told the BOE that, in Hudson politics, he'd been through "eight or nine contentious elections, but when it's over, it's over"--the outcome is decided by the will of the majority. Declaring that he had "a problem with a 3 to 1 vote that was ignored," Pierro called for Otty, who had made the statement dismissing the vote's significance, to resign from the board.

Lee Stone, speaking from where he stood at the back of the room, told the BOE that they should "feel ashamed for the young people fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan when our vote doesn't count." He called for just one person on the board who had voted to impose the rejected budget to say, "I changed my mind."

A woman, who began her statement by telling the board, "You guys finally got me out here," introduced another theme into expressed discontent with the BOE and the HCSD. Her son, she said, had graduated from Hudson High School and could read only at a third-grade level. She told the board, "You have no right to disrespect us as taxpayers and parents."

The public forum concluded, Jeff Otty began his response by denying that he had ever said the May 17 popular vote didn't count. He went through a litany of reasons why the proposed budget was the best it could be and claimed that "the majority of people understand." He ended his statement with a lament about serving on the BOE without remuneration: "I put up with this aggravation for nothing."

BOE member Peter Meyer countered Otty's response with one of this own. "The people spoke," said Meyer, "and told us loud and clear that they don't like this budget. I think we can do better, and we owe it to the public to do so."

There was more conversation and more comments from the public, in the midst of which Wallace called for a vote, but that request went unheeded while BOE member Mary Daly and Superintendent Jack Howe continued to cite reasons why the HCSD could not reach the 3.5 percent tax increase that is the state average. Finally BOE member Elizabeth Fout, after pointing out that the budget had been defeated by the largest margin in HCSD history, noted that there was "a list of cuts that we didn't look at too closely" and stated her willingness to "come back every night for the next two weeks" to work on the budget. Fout said that she didn't think that BOE members who voted no on May 17 could make the motion to rescind the vote, but she made the motion anyway.  

Fout's motion was not seconded because there was uncertainty about who could make the motion to rescind. Robert's Rules of Order indicates that a motion to rescind a prior vote must come from a member who had voted yes in that vote. Howe, however, had an opinion from HCSD lawyers that indicated otherwise. He shared their interpretation that "Robert's Rules of Order should not preclude any member of the board from acting in the best interest of the board." But what was needed to ensure that the vote to rescind would be successful was for someone to change his or her mind.

At last, Peter Merante, who had voted yes on May 17, made the motion to rescind. His statement about the reasons for his change of heart was drowned out by the thunderous applause from the audience. Fout seconded the motion, and the vote was taken. The result was 4 to 2 to rescind. Jeri Chapman, Fout, Meyer, and Merante voted yes to rescind; Otty and Daly voted no.

Although, during the course of the meeting, two weeks was regularly mentioned as the time frame for coming up with a better budget, the fact is there is only one week. The new budget must be ready by May 31. The first meeting to revamp the budget will take place on Wednesday, May 25, at 6 p.m., and the public is invited to attend. Peter Meyer volunteered to organize the agenda for that meeting and is soliciting ideas from everyone. He can be reached at pbmeyer@verizon.net.

Read Paul Crossman's account of the same meeting in the Register-Star: "Board of Ed bows to public pressure."

Monday, May 23, 2011

A Day for Changes of Heart?

Yesterday, Common Council President Don Moore changed his mind and decided to release the proposed final versions of the LWRP and GEIS today rather than keeping them from the public until after a special meeting that has yet to be scheduled. Tonight there may be a chance for another change of heart.

Last Tuesday--at about the same time that Moore was announcing his plan to hold Hudson's waterfront documents in camera for two weeks--the HCSD Board of Education voted 4 to 3 to adopt the $41 million budget that the voters of the Hudson City School District had just voted 3 to 1 to reject. One of the reasons cited for ignoring the results from the polls was that only 18 percent of the voters (1,673) came out to vote. Of course, low voter turnout has never deterred the HCSD BOE in the past. On February 14, 2007--remembered by some as the St. Valentine's Day Massacre--only 647 people--fewer than 7 percent of the voters--made it to the polls during a thoroughly wretched winter storm, but the outcome of that vote was considered a sufficient mandate to commit the district to a $30 million capital project.

Tonight the Board of Education has the chance to rescind its May 17 vote. There's some question about whether or not the vote was legal, since it was done before the popular vote had been certified. (Apparently, it's still not certified.) In order to rescind the earlier vote, one of the four board members who voted to adopt the proposed but rejected budget (Emil Meister, Jeff Otty, Mary Daly, or Peter Merante) needs to make a motion to rescind the vote and then change his or her position in a new vote.

Tonight's BOE meeting gives the voters another chance--this time in person--to tell the BOE that a 9.8 percent increase in the tax levy is intolerable and unacceptable and they need to come up with a better budget. The meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the Hudson High School cafeteria.

Plan to End Homelessness

The CARES study commissioned by Columbia County is now complete, and an article in today's Register-Star summarizes a discussion about the 35-page document that took place on May 12 at 401 State Street: "Homeless plan done, stakeholders look for next step." 

The plan identifies many ways in which Hudson differs from the rest of Columbia County, and the article mentions three of them: more people living in poverty (21.4 percent as compared with 9.5 percent); fewer households headed by two people (26 percent as compared with 50 percent); more households spending more than 30 percent of their income on rent (55 percent as compared with 47 percent). As with all studies of this nature, one has to wonder if CARES recognized the difference between Hudson and Greenport in their statistics. Unlikely, since Hudson and Greenport share the same zip code, and most people who live in Columbia County don't know the difference.

One quote from the article worthy of note: "There was some discussion of the Lantern Group’s proposal to put 30 units of low-income housing at Fifth and Warren streets, and the opposition that faced. [Columbia Opportunities Executive Director Tina] Sharpe suggested reconnecting with them." Again, one has to wonder. Is Sharpe aware of the bad press the Lantern Group has gotten in New York City? 

Sunday, May 22, 2011

LWRP to Be Released Tomorrow

This morning, after Gossips leaked excerpts of the LWRP yesterday, Common Council President Don Moore issued this statement, emailing it to Gossips, as well as to Debora Gilbert of Columbia Paper and Jamie Larson of the Register-Star:
I have reflected on my decision to hold the LWRP for release later in the week. I have consulted with Aldermen, listened to questions raised by the public and the press, obtained additional information on public access to our LWRP and GEIS and concluded that my decision to not immediately release the documents, however well-intentioned, was wrong.  So, the LWRP in its entirety will be released and available on-line at the City of Hudson website on Monday morning at 10 AM. I do hope that everyone will respect that just like the public, the Aldermen must devote a good deal of their time to reviewing and absorbing these documents. Also, scheduling conflicts have delayed the date of the Special Common Council meeting.  As soon as I have a firm date, I will let everyone know. 

Don Moore, Common Council President, May 22, 2011

Public Displays of Disdain

A reader just sent this picture to Gossips, with assurances that it was not Photoshopped.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

WikiLeaks, Hudson Style

Gossips doesn't believe that the LWRP, a document meant to articulate the community's vision for itself, should be treated like a classified document or that satisfying the public's desire to know what changes have been made to the LWRP since it disappeared from public view in 2009 will impede or distract the Common Council in their study and due deliberation. Common Council President Don Moore, in response to "expressions of concern and even outrage" over his decision to keep the document from the public, has issued a statement agreeing to release the LWRP electronically on May 27, but Gossips thinks, because it is our waterfront and it should be our document, that the community has a right to see it as soon as possible. So, when Gossips and the trusty Gossips digital camera got the opportunity to spend a little time with a red-lined copy of the LWRP, we decided to give our readers a preview of some of the more significant changes. 

You can click on the images to enlarge them, but I've got to believe that the spies of the Cold War Era were working with more sophisticated equipment. 

Of Interest

Jamie Larson has a couple articles that deserve attention in today's Register-Star.

The first is about the HCDPA decision to absolve the Hudson Area Library of its obligation to repay $300,000: "A fair trade?"  There's a dubious quote from Mayor Rick Scalera at the end of the article. Speaking of the care and keeping of one of Hudson's most significant historic buildings, Scalera said, “That’s our [HCDPA's] mission now. They’re washing their hands of it.”

The second is about the lavish efforts being made to bring artisanal bread from the French countryside to Warren Street: "Famed baguette will wow local taste buds." No expense is being spared at Cafe Le Perche, 230 Warren Street, which is expected to open next month, but their baguettes are going to have to be very good indeed to rival the baguettes at LOAF.

Friday, May 20, 2011


One of the chicest women's clothing stores in Columbia County is opening a branch store, selling men's clothing as well as women's, in one of Warren Street's most unfortunately redesigned storefronts. The Dakota is coming to 228 Warren Street, the building whose bizarre transformation was chronicled by Gossips through the fall and early winter of 2010.   


What's to Become of 400 State Street?

On Tuesday night, the library board had the first of what is promised to be a series of "listening sessions" to gather ideas about a future home for the library. Although it was expressed in different ways by most of the people who showed up for Tuesday's meeting, the only idea that board president Theresa Parsons and board members Mark Orton and Dennis Kosovac seemed to have no interest in hearing was the idea that the library should stay in the historic building that has been its home since 1959 and which the library has owned since 2005. 

Although at Tuesday's session, Parsons told Jamie Larson that he had "jumped the gun" by reporting in the Register-Star on May 11 that the library planned to leave 400 State Street, Parsons has wasted no time in trying to extricate the library from its commitment to the building. The library purchased the building from the Hudson City School District in 2005 with $300,000 in HUD grant money that had been returned when grant recipients decided they did not want to use their buildings in the manner required of a HUD-funded project. At the time of the purchase, the library entered into a mortgage agreement with the Hudson Development and Community Planning Agency (HCDPA). HCDPA put up the $300,000, and so long as the library remained in the building and used at least 51 percent of it as a library, mortgage payments would never have to be made. 

Yesterday, almost exactly six years later--enough time for all but one of the people who was on the library board in 2005 to have revolved off--Parsons appeared before the HCDPA board seeking to get out of the library's mortgage agreement. Gossips wasn't there to hear exactly what was proposed or what discussion ensued, but the outcome is known. The four members of the HCDPA board present--Mayor Rick Scalera, Common Council Majority Leader Ellen Thurston, Common Council Minority Leader Dick Goetz, and George Dejesus--voted 3 to 1 for HCDPA to take possession of the building when the library leaves and release the library from its obligation to repay the $300,000. The sole dissenting vote was cast by Thurston, who is of the opinion that the library, in its decision to abandon 400 State Street, is breaking faith with the community. 

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Hudson Needs a Dog Park

The tragic death of another dog in South Bay last weekend underlined the need for a safe place for dogs to be off leash in Hudson. In response, First Ward Alderman Sarah Sterling is proposing a meeting of interested dog owners to explore the possibility of creating a dog park in Hudson. The meeting will take place on Tuesday, May 31, at 7 p.m. in City Hall.  

LWRP: The Day After

In the aftermath of Tuesday's Common Council meeting, Jamie Larson talked with some of people in and out of city government--Don Moore, Rick Scalera, Sam Pratt--and reports on those conversations in today's Register-Star: "Public wants to see the LWRP now." 

In the article, Moore concedes that it makes little sense to expect the public to attend a meeting at which the Common Council discusses changes they know nothing about and hints that he may release the documents to the public electronically after all the aldermen have received their copies, which is expected to happen today.

In his comments, however, Rick Scalera reveals that he finds the public meddlesome. "'The document needs to be studied without public pressure,' said Scalera. 'The people asking [for the documents’ release] are directly responsible for the changes that have been made. They basically wore out a path to the Department of State. The reason it took so long was their ability to bend the ear of the DOS, and the documents will reflect that. . . . I don’t get why people are so anxious,' Scalera continued, 'a lot of the changes are things Sam [Pratt] can explain. Perhaps they will have a public session about what they’ve gone up and asked to be changed.'”   

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A Fantasy Worthy of Roald Dahl

Is it true that the Terry-Gillette mansion on Union Street, the archetypal Italian villa, built from a pattern by Richard Upjohn considered by A. J. Downing to be "one of the most successful specimens of the Italian design in the United States," which was the Hudson Elks Lodge for the better part of the 20th century, is going to be converted into a high-end chocolate factory? Should we start looking for those golden tickets?

LWRP: Still Hudson's Best Kept Secret

It was standing room only at last night's Common Council meeting, but anyone who came expecting to learn what changes had been made to Hudson's Local Waterfront Revitalization Program (LWRP) during more than a year of discussion and negotiation between the Department of State and Hudson's "LWRP attorney" Cheryl Roberts was disappointed. Common Council President Don Moore announced his intention to hold the proposed final GEIS (Generic Environmental Impact Statement) and the proposed final LWRP in camera, for review only by the Common Council, until after a special meeting to be held on June 1. According to a memo distributed by Moore last night, on June 1, the "Council meets with BFJ Planners, Counsel [Cheryl Roberts], and possibly DOS staff to answer questions and explain the GEIS and changes to the LWRP." The public can attend the special meeting, but there will be no opportunity for members of the public to ask questions or make comments. The day after the special meeting, on June 2, the documents will be available to the public electronically on the City of Hudson website. 

The proposed final documents were reportedly completed at the end of last week, but the Department of State did not have a copy until yesterday afternoon, when BFJ sent an electronic copy, and there were only four copies available last night to be distributed to the Common Council, which Moore did by drawing names from a hat. The lucky winners were Geeta Cheddie (First Ward), Chris Wagoner (Third Ward), Abdus Miah (Second Ward), and Sheila Ramsey (Fourth Ward). Moore told the other six aldermen that they would get their copies on Thursday. 

Both Sam Pratt, of The Valley Alliance, and Timothy O'Connor, representing the South Bay Task Force, asked why the documents were being kept from the public. Moore explained that he wanted to "respect the Council's ability to examine the documents and have an unencumbered opinion," but Pratt suggested that withholding the documents only spread more distrust. It does seem odd that the aldermen, who are elected to represent their constituents, need to be shielded from the opinions of those constituents in order to form their own opinions. In its description of the special meeting, Moore's memo states, "If Council is ready, Council will vote on whether to accept as final the proposed FGEIS," which suggests that the Common Council could vote to accept the proposed final GEIS before the public has ever had a chance to see it.    

The LWRP discussion from last night's meeting can be heard online at WGXC. Don Moore will be interviewed about the LWRP by Victor Mendolia at 10 a.m. this morning on WGXC's @ Issue (90.7 FM or online at WGXC).    

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

HCSD: Good News Obliterated by Bad News

Out of 9,352 registered voters in the Hudson City School District, only 1,673 turned out at the polls today. Of those 1,673, 1,249 voted NO on the budget. (That's a whopping 75 percent.) Only 424 people voted YES. 

Yet in spite of the voters' unequivocal rejection of the budget, the HCSD Board of Election voted 4 to 3 to impose the exorbitant budget anyway. The four BOE members voting to do so were Peter Merante, Emil Meister, Jeff Otty, and Mary Daly.

Read Lynn Sloneker's excellent account of the stunning turn of events on Unmuffled.

Delicious News for Dogs

LICK just announced that the delightful summer experience of ice cream at LICK will no longer be a pleasure reserved exclusively for humans. Very soon the scooping cabinet at LICK will include a flavor created especially for dogs: Betsy's Bow Wow ice cream, with tiny organic dog biscuits blended in. William can't wait to share a scoop or two with Lucy (pictured), the lady he's been admiring from afar.     

Thought for Today

Legend has it that Richard Nixon watched Patton, the 1970 film starring George C. Scott, over and over again. From a valued friend, I have picked up the habit of watching the episodes of The West Wing over and over again. It is from Episode 109 that this thought for today, uttered by President Josiah Bartlet, is derived:
There's a joke about the pessimist and the optimist. The pessimist says, "Everything's terrible. It can't get any worse." The optimist says, "Oh, yes, it can."

Tuesday's To Do List

Vote in the Hudson City School District Election  Before you cast your yea or nay vote on the proposed $41.2 million budget, check out Lynn Sloneker's blog Unmuffled to see how the HCSD budget and the increased tax levy stack up against other school districts in the region. Voting for Hudson residents is at John L. Edwards Primary School, on State Street behind the library, from noon to 9 p.m.

Tell the Library Trustees What You Think  At 5 p.m., the current trustees of the Hudson Area Library invite "patrons and others interested in the library" to "join a discussion of library relocation." None of the announcements of this event indicates where the discussion is to take place, but Gossips assumes it will be in the very building that the trustees are so eager to abandon: 400 State Street.

Find Out the Latest on the LWRP  Word has it that Hudson's LWRP (Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan) is back, with comments, from the Department of State and will be a topic of discussion at the Common Council meeting. If you move quickly, you can get from the discussion at the library to City Hall in time to be there when the meeting begins at 7 p.m.         

The Aftermath of Tragedy

As some readers may already know, two dogs--two chocolate Labs who were litter mates--were sucked through the culvert in South Bay this past weekend. One of them, Tillie, drowned; the other, Romy, survived and is now in intensive care at a veterinary hospital in Hillsdale.

Yesterday their bereft human, who witnessed her beloved dogs' horrible fate, returned to the scene of the tragedy to post signs warning others of the extreme danger, and there is a community initiative--since the owner and presumed leasee of the property, Holcim and O&G respectively, have in the past taken the callous position that anyone there is trespassing--to install grates on the culvert to keep this from ever happening again. To let people know where the tragedy occurred, Lisa Durfee created this map showing the exact location of the culvert in South Bay. 

Meanwhile, Romy's vet bills are expected to run into thousands of dollars, and friends of Romy's grieving human, Hudson resident Marlene Marshall, have issued an appeal for help, which Gossips is happy to pass along. Checks made out to Marlene Marshall can be mailed to PO Box 363, Sheffield, MA 01257, or dropped off at Lili and Loo in Hudson. If it's more convenient, you can make your contribution through Gossips. Just click on the "Donate" button and indicate that your contribution is for Romy. Gossips will pass the money along to Marlene, with a list of the people who contributed it.    

Monday, May 16, 2011

Ear to the Ground

Hudson is abuzz with talk of the LWRP. The word from various sources is that the document is due back from the Department of State tomorrow and will be a topic of discussion at tomorrow night's Common Council meeting.

If you're curious to know what the Department of State had to say about our LWRP, show up at City Hall. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. Or you can stay home and read about it on Gossips.

Bear with Them

This is National Bear Awareness Week. So, if you should spot a bear at the Greenport Conservation Area, as so many have, or if a bear should wander into Hudson, as a few have in the past, remember, as Defenders of Wildlife tells us, bears have more to fear from us than we have to fear from them. 

Sunday, May 15, 2011

"This Sadly Eloquent Appeal"

On this rainy Sunday morning, we continue the story of Mr. Townsend, the pastor of the Congregational Church, from the original Gossips of Rivertown.

It is not to be supposed that Mr. Townsend listened calmly to all this. Sometimes his emotion would be betrayed only in a nervous contraction of the features, and again he would half rise, as if to refute some charge indignantly, and then recollecting himself, sat down again and covered his face with his hands. Those in favour, sighed and shook their heads as Deacon Morrison glanced triumphantly around; but from the moment Mr. Townsend rose, all was changed. There was a proud and conscious innocence in the look he bent upon the late speaker, though his lips were ashen, and his voice at first low and tremulous.

After regretting that he should have been the cause of any disturbance in the peace that should be among them as brethren and sisters, he said that but for the reproach it had brought upon the church, he would have borne this evil-speaking in silence. That which he was now about to tell them had been unknown to him, until accident had revealed it, a few months after he came among them. He had been an orphan from earliest recollection, and, reared among strangers, had known little of his own family. The papers of his father had never come under his notice until some business arrangement made it necessary they should be placed in his hands. Then, to his horror, he found that the curse —it would seem such—of hereditary insanity had destroyed his father; and an elder brother, whose existence had been kept from him, had died not many years before, the inmate of a mad-house. His mother's friends had hoped that by carefully concealing this from him, and by a judicious mental training, the fearful entailment might be broken.

Since boyhood, even—he could scarcely account for it—he had felt a peculiar horror of insanity. From the moment he made the discovery which he mentioned, it had preyed upon him, notwithstanding a continual struggle against it. For himself, it mattered little what suffering he was called on to undergo; but he never ceased to reproach himself that the happiness of others was now imperilled, and that his fair children might live to be included in the doom which he felt would sooner or later overtake him. Of his wife he could not trust himself to speak. They would never know how much she had renounced for his sake, or how courageously she had met this new sorrow. Sometimes when fears amounted almost to frenzy, and self-reproach became momentary madness, she had soothed him to the calmness he had sought in vain under the still heavens at midnight; and he had now learned for the first time, that in his absence she had yielded to violent grief.

Visitors might have seen him using a composing draught, which had become often necessary to his excited nervous system; and during the late illness of his oldest child, bathing in some alcoholic fluids had been recommended by Doctor Chester. That was probably the solution of the last charges, but of this he knew nothing.

Once more he alluded to his regret that his own sorrow should have occasioned dissension and wrong understanding among them, and that those who felt themselves aggrieved had not come at once to him for explanation. But he cast not the shadow of reproach on any one, save that once he looked sorrowfully towards his principal accuser. It was such a look as the Master might have given to his erring disciple, but it did not move the self-willed, stubborn man.

A murmur of surprise, indignation and compassion filled the silence which followed this sadly eloquent appeal. More than one woman wept aloud, and men who had seen much sorrow forced back the starting tears.

Then they crowded around their pastor to express the sympathy all felt, and some humbly begged his forgiveness that they should have allowed themselves to be so deceived. Amid this movement, the principals of the opposite party disappeared. Deacon Morrison hurried away, that he might not witness the evidences of his own defeat; Miss Martin and Mrs. Smith were completely subdued, and followed him out quickly.

On the threshold they met a messenger pale and breathless, who, as he passed into the group still surrounding their pastor, could only point towards the house Mr. Townsend had so lately left, and say—"Quick, quick, for God's sake, or you will be too late!"

Sketch the Fifth. Male Gossips. Chapter IV.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Another South Bay Tragedy

Last May, Gossips reported the drowning death of a dog in the South Bay culvert. At the time, Department of Public Works Superintendent Rob Perry said he would ask Holcim to put grates on the culvert to prevent this tragedy from happening again. Either Perry didn't ask or Holcim didn't comply with his request, because this evening another dog drowned in the culvert.     

Plans for the Courthouse

This post was originally published on Thursday, May 12, but, through the fluky machinations of Blogger, it disappeared later that day and reappeared as if published for the first time on Saturday, May 14.

At the Planning Commission on Wednesday night, David Robinson, Commissioner for Public Works for Columbia County, presented the plans for alterations to the Columbia County Courthouse. There had been some question about whether or not the City of Hudson had jurisdiction over county projects, but Cheryl Roberts, attorney for the Planning Commission, clarified that the City "has jurisdiction until the City says that it doesn't." Robinson had originally indicated that he would seek a Monroe decision from the Common Council to exempt the project from review and approval by the Hudson Planning Commission and the Hudson Historic Preservation Commission, but on Wednesday night he seemed to willing to seek site plan approval from the Planning Commission and a certificate of appropriateness from the Historic Preservation Commission.

The principal goal of the courthouse project is to achieve compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and provide handicapped access to all parts of the building and handicapped restrooms. To achieve this, two major changes will be made.

On the facade of the building, two ramps will be created, beginning at the east and west edges of the building and leading up to the main entrance. The balustrade on the ramps will replicate the detail along the base of the building, now masked by overgrown foundation plantings, with elements that continue the vertical line of the pilasters. The existing entrance steps will be moved forward and the depth of the porch extended to create a landing for the ramps. In the process, the torcheres that flank the stairs will be removed, restored to their original appearance, and reinstalled.

The second major change will be that the brick wing at the back of the courthouse, which according to Robinson is a remnant of the Moul courthouse that was destroyed by fire at the winter of 1906, will be demolished and a new addition will be constructed on its footprint. Elevators and handicapped accessible restrooms will be located in this addition. Robinson explained that in the design for this addition they could have tried to "absolutely match" the style of the existing building or complement it, and they elected to complement the Beaux Arts design.

East Elevation

West Elevation

The architect for the project is John Cutsumpas of Lothrop Associates in Valhalla, New York, and the project is expected to cost between $8 and $10 million. Robinson noted, "We could have done it on the cheap, but we didn't go that way." Thank you, Mr. Robinson!

The courthouse plans will be presented at the Historic Preservation Commission tomorrow morning at 10 a.m. It's an opportunity to see these drawings larger and clearer than they are reproduced here.